Skip to main content

Students on the Market

The Ph.D. candidates on the job market for the 2018-2019 year are:

Andrew M. Engelhardtengelhardt

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Major Fields of Study: American Politics, Political Methodology
  • Dissertation Title: The Race Politics Makes: Parties, Polarization, and Whites’ Racial Attitudes
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2019
  • Dissertation Abstract: I demonstrate the dynamic relationship between politics and Whites’ racial views. Changes in the political context have increased partisanship’s importance relative to other identities and predispositions. As a result, partisanship shapes where Whites go for information and how they interpret what they receive. Political elites provide some of this information, with attitudinal consequences. To understand these relationships, I first reveal divergent partisan elite conversations on race through case studies and text-as-data methods. I then link this charged rhetoric to changes in mass attitudes using experiments and observational analyses. The dynamic relationship between politics and Whites’ racial attitudes comes from changes in the political context that shape how people engage with the information environment
  • Advisor: Cindy Kam

Oscar Castorenacastorena





M. Brielle Harbin


Bryan Rooneyrooney

  • Major Fields of Study: International Relations, Political Methodology
  • Dissertation Title: Emergency Powers in Democracies and the Outbreak of Conflict
  • Dissertation Abstract: Scholars argue that institutions in democracies constrain leaders and prevent violent conflict. However, many democracies specify rules of governance in times of emergency that divert substantial power to the head of state. The existence of emergency powers creates incentives for political leaders to invite crises where they can declare emergencies to gain access to these powers. Further, such unconstrained leaders may inspire future violence in response to their actions. I collect original data on emergency provisions, examining 147 state constitutions, over 500 amendments, and numerous legislative acts in all democratic states from 1816 to the present and explore the origins of these provisions. Using this novel dataset of emergency provisions within democracies, I examine the relationship between emergency power strength and international conflict. I perform several tests to avoid endogeneity. I exploit the specificity of the state’s constitution as a plausibly exogenous determinant of emergency power strength in an instrumental variable analysis. Under this more stringent test for causality, I find that clear evidence that emergency powers create incentives for political leaders to foment conflict. I then examine the impact of executive discretion through the use of these powers on the likelihood of terror attacks. I find that enhanced executive discretion helps states battle in-group terror but encourages overreaction that increases out-group terror attacks, owing to disparate responses from the public. An unforeseen consequence of allowing democratic leaders enhanced power to navigate external conflicts is an increased propensity for conflict, and institutional rules designed to preserve the democratic order may in fact undermine it.
  • Advisor: Brett Benson

Carolyn (Carrie) Roushroush

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Major Fields of Study: American Politics, Political Methodology
  • Dissertation Title: “It’s Not Me, It’s You:” How Americans’ Animosity Toward Their Opponents Drives Modern Politics
  • Dissertation Abstract: My dissertation examines the ways in which the increasingly negative feelings that Americans harbor toward their political opponents influence the way they understand politics. Though the conventional understanding of partisanship suggests that people orient themselves to politics through their connection to their own party, I demonstrate that modern partisanship works primarily through the negativity partisans feel toward their opponents. In a polarized political environment, people’s self-reported strength of partisanship or positive feelings toward their own party do little to explain their attitudes. This is a new development in American public opinion: previously, people’s issue and ideological preferences were influenced in equal measure by their warm feelings toward their own party and their dislike of the opposition. Since 2000, however, the dislike that partisans feel toward their opponents dominates these attitudes. Out-party hostility also appears to be a driving force behind biased information processing. I find that partisans unquestioningly accept unverified, often salacious political conspiracy theories as truth simply because they dislike their opponents. These negative out-party feelings also play an important role in inoculating partisans against believing rumors that paint themselves and their allies in a poor light. Out-party negativity, therefore, may be at least partially responsible for the breakdown of political dialogue in the United States. Finally, while negative out-party feelings may lead to normatively troubling outcomes, they also appear to play a beneficial role in promoting democratic values. Partisans who intensely dislike their opponents are more likely to attach importance to specific civil liberties or democratic norms than those who feel neutrally or even positively toward the other side. In this way, out-party negativity plays a vital role in promoting democratic attitudes during a time in which Americans express a growing openness to authoritarian interpretations of democracy. Taken together, this research suggests a need to revisit the conventional understanding of partisanship as a social identity: partisans now use their hostility toward the other side as a heuristic to guide them through the political world.
  • Advisors: Larry Bartels and Marc Hetherington

Marc Trusslertrussler

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Major Fields of Study: American Politics and Political Communication
  • Dissertation title: The Effects of High Information Environments on US Legislative Elections and Accountability
  • Dissertation Defense Date:
  • Dissertation Abstract: My research focuses on how changing communication infrastructure has helped to accelerate the nationalization of US legislative politics, whereby politics at all levels increasingly operates on one partisan dimension to the detriment of local issues. Using data on the roll-out of broadband internet in all 50 states from 2000-2008, I show how high-speed internet affects the information voters receive, how those voters make decisions up and down the ballot, and how legislators respond to the new incentives created by these changes. While broadband does provide new sources of information, I show it also has negative effects on local newspaper circulation and coverage of members of Congress. As a result, voters in this local-information vacuum increasingly use partisan cues to make voting decisions, leading to more straight-ticket voting, a lower incumbency advantage, and a smaller penalty for legislators excessively voting with their parties. Legislators facing this new environment respond by acting more in accordance with the desires of national interests: their parties, the President, and aligned interest groups. Together, my research explains how an increasingly nationalized political system has been accelerated through changes in the information environment. My findings highlight that the solution to hyper-partisanship cannot be found in reforming new-media alone, but must also focus on resuscitating the traditional local media.
  • Advisor: Josh Clinton

Sheahan G. Virgin virgin

  • Name pronounced: Shay‐EN
  • Major Fields of Study: American Politics, Comparative Politics
  • Dissertation Title: Electoral Reform in America: Theoretical Refinements and Empirical Analyses
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Degree expected May 2019
  • Dissertation Abstract: A central tenet in the electoral systems subfield is that parties and their members pursue opportunities to advance partisan objectives via the strategic adoption of electoral rules. This scholarly consensus exists for good reason: after all, partisans not only run for office under a given set of electoral rules, but also, they populate the deliberative bodies that make, as well as the administrative positions that maintain, them. While a focus on parties is prudent, the purpose of my research agenda is to challenge the state of the art by reconceptualizing electoral reform as a process that is more nuanced and richer theoretically than the canonical partisan self-interest approach permits.

    In my projects, I put partisan self-interest to the test by examining a range of other, extra-partisan considerations that motivate political actors—whether elites or the mass public—to favor the adoption of new electoral rules or the adaption of existing ones. Examples of such motivations include: the effect of geographic loyalty on support for electoral college reform (published in Electoral Studies); of predispositional core values on support for absentee voting (job market paper); and, of nationalistic attitudes such as American exceptionalism on support for ranked-choice voting (in progress). The major contribution of this research is that it presents a more accurate understanding of a process that is central to democratic maintenance and renewal: while the (expected) partisan effect of a reform is indeed a powerful motivation, actors possess—and chase through reform—predispositional and attitudinal objectives other than those that are immediately partisan in nature.

  • Advisors: David E. Lewis & Elizabeth J. Zechmesiter (co‐chairs)


Name                        Subfield                     Link to their website

Andrew Engelhardt    American/Methods

Oscar Castorena        Comparative     

M. Brielle Harbin        American          

Bryan Rooney            IR/Methods        

Carolyn Roush          American            

Marc Trussler           American/Methods

Sheahan Virgin        American/Comparative